An ad in the Super Bowl is a digital marketing opportunity like no other, but not all brands reach the end zone with their efforts. In this article, our Research & Insight Manager, Marc Aston, takes a closer look at the big winners from Super Bowl LVI, as well as those who didn’t quite shine on the night.
Before we get started on the hits and misses from Super Bowl LVI’s ads, let’s crunch some of the numbers for one of the most-watched sporting events on the planet.
In total, 36 million households tuned in to the Super Bowl this year, up from 32 million in 2021. During the broadcast there were 68 ads shown in total, covering 35 distinct industries, with 40% coming from first-time advertisers.
Nearly three quarters (74%) of all Super Bowl ads in 2022 featured at least one celebrity, while 75% of automobile commercials went for the green angle, showcasing their latest EV models.
The first of our big hits is Pringles, who came up trumps with an ad inspired by the real-life dilemma experienced by 43% of their customers. A man desperate for the last Pringle in the can ends up getting his hand stuck inside, spending the rest of his life – including marriage, the birth of his child, and finally his death – with the can still firmly lodged on his forearm.
Pringles displayed confidence in their willingness to laugh at themselves, while demonstrating that even a divisive characteristic (or flaw) in a product or service can serve as a powerful digital marketing tool, if executed with a sense of humour and the perfect soundtrack – in this case Lionel Ritchie’s “Stuck on You”.
Championing diversity at Super Bowl LVI were Google, highlighting the issue of camera tech’s often inaccurate representation of darker skin tones. After personal testimonies from people of colour, the brand introduced us to ‘Real Tone on Google Pixel 6’ and showed how their latest mobile release is combatting this problem.
The influence of the musical choice here – three-time Grammy winner Lizzo’s “If You Love Me” – was profound, and chimed perfectly with the visuals on screen to deliver an extremely cohesive, powerful and memorable result.
A controversial pick, but no-one can argue that Coinbase didn’t make an impact with their mysterious QR code commercial. Inspired by a classic Windows screensaver, it showed a plain black background with a QR code bouncing across it which, when scanned, directed users straight to the website of the cryptocurrency exchange platform.
It’s difficult to gauge the ‘popularity’ of the ad in traditional terms, but what can’t be argued with is the numbers. 20 million people visited the site in a single minute, a vindication of the brand’s disruptive approach that displayed the power of tapping into human beings’ natural curiosity – a victory for simplicity.
Although Salesforce’s ad, featuring the inimitable Matthew McConaughey, peaked interest amongst viewers with its cinematic style and intriguing concept, there was a sense that it was perhaps not brand-specific enough to really hit home, with some also criticising the ‘preachy’ style of messaging.
With their choice of celebrity and the style of execution, there’s no doubt that Salesforce spent big on this particular commercial, with lofty ambitions. However, the lack of structure or narrative gave it a slightly generic feel, offering no real call to action or information relating back to Salesforce. While for some it was a fascinating spectacle in and of itself, that didn’t translate to effective advertising.
This celeb-tastic piece of marketing proved a slight misfire by beer brand Michelob, despite featuring the likes of actor Steve Buscemi, golf star Brooks Koepka and soccer great Alex Morgan, alongside NFL legend Peyton Manning (who appeared in three commercials at this year’s Super Bowl).
In fact, the overall perception around Michelob’s ad was that it focused rather too much on the celebrity aspect, instead of communicating product benefits through a compelling narrative. A timely reminder that major names are no guarantee of success, particularly if there isn’t a strong and clear idea at the heart of the ad. Manning’s multi-ad presence at the event may also have contributed to this forgettable effort.
This felt like an opportunity missed for renowned travel brand Booking.com. The teasers for this commercial actually showed a great deal of promise, featuring Idris Elba being coached for his Super Bowl advertising debut by two veteran brand spokespeople – Jonathan Goldsmith and Isaiah Mustafa.
However, the full ad didn’t quite live up to expectations, as it failed to provide the big laughs that many had expected from its trailers. Building anticipation within a digital marketing campaign can be extremely successful, but you need to ensure the final delivery is on point to avoid consumer frustration and the inevitable backlash (think ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8).